Have you ever stood silently in a crowd and felt like the last of your kind? The last member of a special breed on the brink of extinction? Well folks, I often get that feeling. I believe I have mentioned once or twice previously that I’ve never really been a social butterfly, nor have I been known to frequent communal activities (weddings, Eid celebrations, or sisters-only events….nope I’d rather stay home, stuff my face with food, and binge watch Netflix). The truth is I’ve always felt a little odd and awkward since I usually don’t fit into any of the usual prototypes of what a Muslim women should be like.
As a teenager, I was a bit of chameleon. I use to compartmentalize the many aspects of my life into neatly organized folders (stored deep into the abyss of my psyche). My closest friends being bookworms, it was all about books for us. Exchanging them, discussing them, and even on occasions re-enacting some poignant scenes (don’t you dare judge us Cyrano de Bergerac is a masterpiece) was an integral part of our teenage experience. As an avid science fiction fan though I often felt alone. None of my friends were particularly interested in sci-fi or watched any of the series I followed so obsessively. I couldn’t find anyone within the Muslim community that seemed to share my particular fondness for science fiction. I got used to being the lone Muslim going to conventions, Renaissance Fairs, partaking in cosplaying, and LARPing.
With age though, one feels an increasing need to create a community of like minded individuals; a need to find a way of sharing oneself with others. Luckily I’ve been able to meet a few Muslimahs who share my fondness for books, science fiction, and other geeky leisures (Give us your indecipherable datas, your convoluted and confusing theories, your hidden subtexts, seriously we live for that stuff). What is undeniable however is that we all feel very much like an oddity amongst our fellow Muslims. There are no shortages of online platforms catering to Muslims interested in fashion, parenting advices, politics (from the most interesting conversations to the most dubious), or matrimonial services …..but very little else. With the sheer amount of engineers, science majors, and PhD holders we have in the Muslim community, you would think platforms discussing everything from academia to science and technology would be front and centre in the Muslim blogosphere. And yet, the silence on that front is deafening. We own very little platforms or institutions dedicated to fostering innovative scientific and technological ideas, and even less dedicated to the arts and literature.
So where in the world are all the Muslim geeks/nerds?
Surely we can’t be the only contingent who proudly assume their geekiness and actually revel in it? Are we all living happily in our own little silos? If so, I say it is time to come out into the open folks. We come from a long tradition of thinkers, scientists, inventors, and scholars who have enlightened humanity by responding to its most pressing needs. The current narrative ladened with Islamophobia tends to reduce Muslims to nothing more than the caricature of a religious fanatic. It is a narrative that either seeks to erase our complexity and diversity, or simply strip us of our humanity. There is an increasing pressure on Muslims (young Muslims especially) to modernize and reform Islam by making it more compatible with the precept of Western Liberalism. They are often being told that there is something inherently wrong with their Muslim identity and that it needs sprucing up to make it more appealing.
This is where Muslims more than ever need to be uncompromisingly and unapologetically Muslim. We neither need to modernize nor reform Islam. We neither need to dilute our identity, nor silence our voices out of fear. This is when we need to show the world that Islam far from being a hinderance to our fulfillment is in fact the very source of our potential and possibilities. Muslims must take their destiny into their own hands by shaping their own future. It is time to be brazenly innovative, creative, and dare to dream the future into reality; and who better to do that than Muslim geeks/nerds.
So come out, come out, wherever you are brothers and sisters your vision and your talents are sorely needed.
**If you are aware of any Muslim blogs/websites with a particular penchant toward science, technology, science fiction, literature etc… feel free to share them in the comment section. Jazak’Allah Khair.